SUPERGriff: How Blake Griffin is evolving the Clippers
Written By William Richardson Jr.
Is Blake Griffin a superstar?
I don’t know. After eight years in the league, I’m still not sure.
I also don’t know if he’ll live up to his five-year, $173 million contract. But I do know Blake Griffin can do three things very well: he can punch very well, he can dunk very well, and he has the potential to change the game when he’s able to be on the court and healthy.
With Chris Paul gone, it looks like Blake Griffin automatically becomes the Los Angeles Clippers’ number one option. So far, it looks like he’s finally playing like the number one overall pick he was drafted to be. We all know Blake Griffin can dunk on anybody’s head; we’ve seen him throw the ball over Pau Gasol, Timofey Mozgov, Kendrick Perkins, and a lot of other players in the league over his career. What we haven’t seen is Griffin make that transition from dunker to all-around power forward that can change the game on a big-time level. This year, he’s starting to become a better player.
Through the Clippers’ first nine games, Griffin is averaging 23.8 points (which would be the second highest scoring average of his career), 8.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists (would be the second-highest assist per game average of his career), and is shooting 50 percent from the field in about 34 minutes per game.
All of those numbers are pretty much on par with his career numbers. What really rounds out Blake Griffin’s improvement this year is his percentages from the three-point line: and the free-throw line: 42.5 percent and 74.6 percent respectively.
To put it in perspective, if those percentages hold, he would crush his career-high percentage of three-point shooting by a whole 17 percent and would be his second highest free-throw percentage for his career.
Oh, and he’s not afraid to have the ball in his hands for the final play of the game. Seriously, look at this buzzer beater against Portland in the fourth game of the season.
He gets the ball off the screen, dribbles, stops, pumps fakes, and drills the dagger. All in three seconds. Call Chris Paul a cancer, say that Blake had no choice but to step up, make any excuse that you want. But Blake Griffin finally looks like the #1 pick and as the Clippers start to build momentum for their season, here’s why he has to be the man for this team.
Look at their starting five on paper. DeAndre Jordan just stands in the paint and waits for a favorable matchup so he can get an easy layup or dunk. He’s not a threat offensively 90% of the time. Danilo Gallinari can score a lot at times, but not at the point where teams will make a gameplan around him. Austin Rivers doesn’t scare anybody. Patrick Beverley is a defensive expert, but not offensively. They don’t have a point guard to facilitate the ball, so Blake ends up setting up the offense and moving it through him.
Now look at the bench. Milos Teodosic is out with an injury to his left foot, Lou Williams is a high volume scorer, but he’s on the bench for a reason (whether it’s because of nepotism or any other reason, my statement still stands). Then out of Willie Reed, Montrezl Harrell, Brice Johnson, Wesley Johnson, Sam Dekker, Sindarius Thornwell, and Jawun Evans, none of those names are key players.
Griffin is the only person on the team that you can even gameplan around. He can shoot the midrange jumper, post up, dunk on your head, can pass, and now he can shoot the three-pointer consistently. As if that wasn’t a sign he has to be the man, here’s where he ranks on the team in a few categories: scoring (1st), rebounds (2nd), assists (1st), steals (3rd), field goal percentage (fifth) and three-point percentage (fifth).
Surprisingly, the Clippers are 5-4 on the season so far. It’s only nine games in, so I’m not going to ride the bandwagon yet. But they need Griffin to lead this team.
Because if he doesn’t, who will?